The invisible data of our lives

December 1, 2016


We are moving to a prevention-based health care system that will be informed increasingly by genetic perspectives. This is where genetic literacy and our health intersect.

It represents a change in approach that looks to find markers in an individual that predict how that individual will respond to that drug. The U.S National Library of Medicine provides a useful guide to help us understand genetics.


Moreover, we can use genetic data to inform lifestyle, physical activity, diet- and not only in terms of actions to take, but also with regards to dosage.

What are we willing to struggle for? Do we really know whether genetic risk associated with complex diseases can be offset by behavioral changes.


A recent study at the New England Journal of Medicine now brings us some answers. Take heart disease for an example, as one would expect people with high genetic risk score were at much higher risk of developing coronary events. What perhaps is unexpected is that genetics and healthy lifestyle choices seem to be independently contributing to the susceptibility of heart disease.


The question here will we be able to move beyond the the generic prescriptions of diet and exercise and tailor one’s choices to his or her genetics.


Our individual health largely depends on the genes we inherit. Risk for conditions, like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes all have roots in DNA and genetics.


But new research shows that our DNA isn’t  the end of the story. There is another important layer of information stored in what is known the epigenome. An article published by for Simmons, D PhD; examines how environmental exposures play a major role in disease.


Unlike our genes, which are permanent, epigenes can and do change throughout our life. More importantly, these changes are influenced by our lifestyle and environment- things like diet, stress and exercise. And this process responds to signals from our everyday life, which brings us to why we should be able to visualize and interpret the data of our lives.


Luckily, technology makes it accessible to everyday people to quantify their data from their environmental exposures and genetic tests to meaningful useful information. KQED science  talks about how to make use of your genetic test results.


With all the limitations that we have today in understanding our whole genome, the genetic tests available today provide enough information about our DNA  for more informed decisions about  our nutrition, exercise, and drug therapy.


Ramzy Haddad, RPh

Health scientist & health hacker


Health Hacker I My goal is to assist people with decisions about nutrition, exercise and drug therapy to reduce their personal risk of injury. My favorite way to spend time is outdoor adventures and cycling.


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